'Ogden's Nut Gone Flake' possesses a wide variety of quite unique pop/psychedelic/rock songs. In fact, it's unlikely that most Americans would have heard much of anything like 'Ogden's...'. While this 1968 disc is widely touted as the Small Faces finest album, it also exists as their swan song, with Steve Marriott exiting the band in the middle of a concert on New Years Day in 1969. The album includes two songs that charted well in England, but not in the US. 'Lazy Sunday' rose to number two, eclipsed only by Louis Armstrong's 'What a Wonderful World', and 'Afterglow' reached number 36. The bonus track, a live version of 'Tin Soldier' was a #9 hit in England, and served as the b-side to the band's only US hit, 'Itchycoo Park'. It's fitting that the bonus track, more than any other song on the disc, sounds more like the band Marriott would go on to lead (with Peter Frampton as his lead guitarist) and have his greatest success with, Humble Pie.
The Small Faces and 'Ogden's...' were never America's cup o' tea. It's a bit hard to say why, but some art simply doesn't translate from one culture to another. While most British work shares enough of America's sensibility to be integrated here, every once in a while the Atlantic gulf between us surfaces. Such is the case, for instance, with the British comedy, 'Coronation Street', and the same is true for the Small Faces and 'Ogden's...'. That being said, it isn't difficult to perceive from this production what gave Marriott and lead guitarist Ronnie Lane success in their homeland. There are many sweet tunes on 'Ogden's...', beginning with the vibrant instrumental opener bearing the album's title. 'Afterglow' follows, opening with curious sounds and the melody delivered in a whistle, while the chorus is almost inaudibly spoken, "I'm happy just to be with you, and loving you the way I do". It possesses a thoughtful feel which permeates nearly every song that follows.
Being the psychedelic '60's, 'Ogdens...' frequently meanders into experimental use of echo, alternating channels, and other techniques that work at times, and at other times sound stilted and dated. Several songs, such as 'Long Agos and Worlds Apart' and 'Mad John' develop into engaging, loping rock numbers that fade away all too soon. On the original vinyl, the first six songs formed side one, and this is the strongest collection of tracks, with the fourth entry, 'Rene', being the stand-out. The thick British accents make the lyrics a bit hard to understand, but the codo runs long and features some nice lead guitar, a pounding bass, and rap/scat-like vocal sounds. 'Song of a Baker' features more tomfoolery in the control booth, but a sweet electric guitar.
Side two on the original vinyl represented half a concept album, telling the difficult to understand tale of Happiness Stan. Actor Stanley Holloway, who passed away in 1982, provides the Cockney-laden between songs narration. You pick up a few words here-and-there, but grasping an entire sentence requires a bit of close listening and plenty of interpretation. There are more sweet tunes, including the hard-rocking, drum and vocal driven 'Rollin' Over'. 'The Hungry Intruder' features a nice sounding chorus, and 'Mad John' possesses a complelling chant as a coda. The closer, 'Happydaystoytown' is a feel-good march, prodding the listeners to get up, lock elbows, and "everyone sing together now!". I'm not sure what it's all about, and while it is entertaining, it's also easy to see why it never caught on in the states.
The album times out at about 42 minutes, with the shortest song ('The Hungry Intruder') timing out at 2:15, and the longest ('Rene') clocking in at 4:30. The time listings for the final 6 songs are a bit misleading, however, as they include Holloway's narration, which runs over a minute in several instances.
If you visit ebay and feed "nut gone" and "cd" into the search engine you'll turn up perhaps 10 hits. Nearly every version (and there are numerous versions of this disc available... mine doesn't even appear among the 11 reissues offered here at Amazon) being offered is accompanied by a price listed in British pounds. I think you had to be there, literally, to truly "get it", and that's still pretty much true today.